May 16, 2006

Eduardo Galeano and Arundhati Roy at the Town Hall

Posted in other groups and events, people and interviews at 1:46 pm by cuenv-main

The Lannan Foundation and the Center for Economic Research and Social Change are cosponsoring a joint appearance by renowned Lannan Prize-winning author-activists Eduardo Galeano and Arundhati Roy at the Town Hall (at 123 West 43rd St) at 7 PM on Sunday 5/21. Tickets are $15 and are on sale at the Town Hall Box Office and on Ticketmaster.

Sorry, did I say Arundhati Roy is going to be there? 'Cause, Arundhati Roy is going to be there.


April 29, 2006

Mukhtar Mai Speaks at the UN

Posted in other groups and events, people and interviews at 7:18 am by cuenv-main

Thanks to Anastasia at The Hunger Project for the heads-up on this:

On May 2nd, 2006 Ms. Mukhtar Mai will return to New York to speak at The United Nations. Honored as "Woman of the Year" by Glamour magazine, Mai was gang raped in 2002 on the orders of a panchayat, or tribal court, as retribution for an offense allegedly committed by her younger brother. Defying social stigma and the culture of shame surrounding rape victims in Pakistan, Mai not only spoke out about her rape, but in an act of unprecedented courage, took her rapists to court. In a remarkable effort to challenge a system designed to deny women justice, Mai has been fighting an uphill legal battle for the past three years. She is now appealing her case before the Pakistani Supreme Court following a lower court's release of five of the acquitted men charged of the crime.

The event will take place Tuesday 5/2 at 12 PM in Conference Room 8 at the United Nations HQ at 46th St & 1st Ave. Admission is free, but attendees are asked to RSVP to More background information is available on the Mukhtar Mai Wikipedia entry; more information about the event is available on the Virtue Foundation event page.

April 27, 2006

Gulati’s Last Principles Lecture

Posted in cu official shenanigans, people and interviews at 10:14 am by cuenv-main

Aditi reminded me that Sunil Gulati's famous end-of-the-semester Principles of Economics lecture is today (Thursday 4/27) at 2:40 PM in 417 IAB. This lecture is something unequivocally everyone should see at least once before they leave Columbia.

April 26, 2006

Steven Pinker on “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature”

Posted in cu official shenanigans, people and interviews at 12:16 pm by cuenv-main

This may at first appear only tangentially related to sustainability issues, but–as many of you are no doubt aware–it is increasingly clear that understanding thought patterns on the individual and cultural levels is a critical part of raising the awareness necessary to achieving global sustainability. The work of Harvard evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker makes strong claims about the nature of these thought patterns that we would probably all do well to consider and understand–regardless of whether we agree with his ideas–and his resulting policy recommendations–or not:

Pinker argues that modern science has challenged three views that comprise the dominant view of human nature in intellectual life:

  • the blank slate
  • the noble savage
  • the ghost in the machine

Much of the book is dedicated to examining fears of the social and political consequences of his view of human nature:

  • the “fear of inequality”
  • the “fear of imperfectibility”
  • the “fear of determinism”
  • the “fear of nihilism”

Pinker claims these fears are non sequiturs, and that the blank slate view of human nature would actually be a greater threat if it were true. For example, he argues that political equality does not require sameness, but policies that treat people as individuals with rights; that moral progress doesn’t require the human mind to be naturally free of selfish motives, only that it has other motives to counteract them; that responsibility doesn’t require behavior to be uncaused, only that it responds to praise and blame; and that meaning in life doesn’t require that the process that shaped the brain must have a purpose, only that the brain itself has purposes. He also argues that grounding moral values in claims about a blank slate opens them to possibilty of being overturned by future empirical discoveries; and that belief in a blank slate human nature encourages destructive social trends such as persecution of the successful and totalitarian social engineering.

Wikipedia on The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.

He’ll be here tomorrow Thursday 4/27 to discuss his book and work at 7 PM in 104 Jerome Greene Hall (Proskauer Auditorium). Doors open at 6:30 PM; seating is first-come, first-serve.

April 8, 2006

Some photographs, and a book about changing the world

Posted in event summaries, other groups and events, people and interviews at 5:41 pm by Aditi Sriram

So I attended part of the “CUPID Presents: Urbanization in the Developing World — Perspectives on the Individual” conference on Friday 4/7 and encountered some very interesting social workers, lawyers and students who have been and are still involved in social justice, human rights and urbanization issues all over the world. Although I didn’t get to hear him speak, keynote speaker Robert Neuwirth sounds like a fascinating man. His book, Shadow Cities covers his journeys in 4 cities across the world, and the realizations he accumulates through his travels.

While I was researching Neuwirth and his book, I came across another interesting website about a campaign to change the world, Worldchanging, inspired by a photography contest won by Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. It asks for donations, to ensure the sustainable development of this planet, but goes deeper than that. Worldchanging writes:

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this is a conversation, not a sermon. We encourage not just feedback, but active participation, and, yes, challenge. Got a great idea for a resource we’ve missed? Let us know – better yet, write your own recommendation and send it to us. Think we’re off-base with a recommendation we’ve made? Let us know that, too, and what resource you think we should have covered instead. Changing the world is a team sport.

How can you play?

You can let us know what you think by commenting on specific recommendations. Every one of our recommendations includes a comment field at the bottom. We read ’em. So do others. Speak out and share what you know.

You can respond to individual authors by emailing us at the addresses found in our bios.

You can suggest a resource for us to cover by mailing us.

You can write a recommendation yourself. If it works for us, we’ll run it, with your byline. We don’t pay (we don’t even pay ourselves), but the karmic rewards are huge. (If you decide you want to write something for us, you might want to read through our contributors’ guidelines.)

You can let others know about worldchanging. Got a blog? We’d love a link. Have friends who might find reading us worthwhile? Email ’em and let ’em know. Spreading the word is part of the work.

Thanks, y’all!

The WorldChanging Krewe

So explore the website! Enjoy!

March 26, 2006

Stiglitz Speaks on Iraq War

Posted in cu official shenanigans, people and interviews at 10:36 pm by cuenv-main

Sometimes, I just love being here:

Joseph E. Stiglitz will speak next Monday 4/3 on “The True Costs of the Iraq War.” The lecture is at 8 PM in the Davis Auditorium in the Schapiro CEPSR Building. Details:

In a study released last January economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard lecturer Linda Bilmes concluded that the total costs of the Iraq war could cost as much as $2 trillion. The study “The Economic Costs of the Iraq War” was widely publicized and covered by media around the world.

Joseph E. Stiglitz is University Professor at Columbia University in New York and Chair of Columbia University’s Committee on Global Thought. In 2001, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for his analysis of markets with asymmetric information. Stiglitz was a member of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1993-95, during the Clinton administration, and served as CEA chairman from 1995-97. He then became Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President of the World Bank from 1997-2000.

Stiglitz’s book, Globalization and Its Discontents, was translated into 35 languages and has sold more than one million copies worldwide. His forthcoming book Making Globalization Work will be published by WW Norton in September 2006.

March 21, 2006

Grist Interviews Tirso Moreno, Florida Farmworker Organizer

Posted in people and interviews at 6:33 am by cuenv-main

Grist has an interesting interview with Tirso Moreno, the general coordinator for the Farmworker Association of Florida. Perhaps the most insightful and amusing bit, though, was the following gem:

Grist: How does your work relate to the environment?

Tirso: Why should environmentalists care about farmworkers? Well, do you eat?

Really, need I say more? Link.